Koen speaks…

Sharing my experiences of self-learning Korean language!

Do you have a Language Privilege? — August 5, 2018

Do you have a Language Privilege?

Since my early teenage years, I had always wondered whether one’s nationality or gender has any effect on one’s capability to learn a language better.

I stumbled on this thought when I attended some lecture at school by a foreign teacher. I don’t exactly remember what the lecture was all about, but I remember the teacher telling us that we were quite lucky because, as per her, we have a neutral accent. So, basically, she was saying that we (the Nepalese) were lucky in terms of language learning, because we have a neutral accent. After that incident, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed true. And once I started learning Korean, I was reminded of this fact every single time.

As a Nepali growing up in one of the most culturally rich South Asian nations, Nepal, we essentially learn or know at least four languages: Nepali (네팔어,the national language), English (영어, the official teaching language at most schools, at least in all cites), one’s caste specific language (Newari 네왈어, in my case; Every caste has their own unique language), and Hindi (인도,that we learn from massive exposure to Indian television). And if you have a close friend that belongs to some other caste or if you live in a community with majority of people from some other caste, you are most likely to learn a fifth or even a sixth language.

So I know four languages just because I am a Nepali. I am fluent in Nepali and English. And I fully understand Newari and Hindi (but my speaking skills aren’t that good). And I am learning Korean. So, that makes it five. Therefore, my brain is already wired to handle multiple languages. Out of the four languages that I know, three (Nepali, Hindi and Newari) are quite similar in terms of structure, syntax and vocabulary (to some extent) although there are some stark differences as well; whereas English has a completely different structure on its own.

As for Korean, when I first started learning Korean, I picked up the basics such as the sentence structure, verb conjugation, etc., quite easily. I used to watch a lot of videos on YouTube (TTMIK, Koreanclass101, Conversational Korean, sweetandtastyTV and many more), and learn the verbs, basic nouns, pronouns, etc. I also used to look up a lot of videos and blog posts about how other foreigners were learning Korean, things like “tips for learning Korean or learning a second language, in general”.  And I began noticing that many people, mostly non-Asian English speaking Korean learners, struggled quite a lot, mostly at the beginning with the Korean sentence structure. But I couldn’t understand why that was the case, because for me, the sentence structure in Korean S-O-V “난 학교에 간다” which is “I to school go” in English was a very simple concept. You just push the verb to the end of the sentence. Moreover, although my native language is Nepali, I was learning Korean in English as well, the same way these English speakers were doing. So, I wondered why the whole verb-at-the-end-of-the-sentence” thing was not a problem for me at all. But, I felt quite stupid afterwards, when I realized that the whole S-O-V structure is exactly what Nepali AND Newari AND Hindi follows too. (It surprisingly did took me quite a long time to realize that, as I was translating everything in English while learning Korean!) Therefore, although I was learning Korean in English, my brain was already used to shoving the verb to the end of the sentence. So the Korean structuring was nothing new for my brain at all.

This made me realize that just because I was a Nepali (still am btw), I could easily skip the whole process of wrapping my head around many concepts, the sentence structure being just one case. Well, I am not talking about just a simple “I go to school” structure, much longer sentences in Korean have an almost identical translation in Nepali. That is why, all I needed to do was learn the words, build my vocabulary and I was all good to go. For example, a sentence like “I got tons of compliments for my looks at yesterday’s party”  which is something like “Ma hijo office ko party ma gako ta sable malai kasto ramri dekheko vane”, is almost identical in Korean: 어제 (난) 회사 파티에 갔더니, 다들 정말 예쁘다고 말했다/칭찬했다. To illustrate what I am saying, let’s see a whole dialogue.

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Language Tag! — February 17, 2016

Language Tag!

And I thought I knew it all!

Ever since I started pursuing my language goals, I really thought I had read all that is to read about language learning,  watched all the videos on learning languages that is needed (and that is humanly possible within the time that I had on my disposal) to have a good knowledge on it; and I thought I followed, well, not exactly followed, but at least was well aware of all the trends in the linguistics world. But how wrong I was! Coz when dearest Liz from JumpingJacqueline tagged me in this language tag, I had not the faintest idea what a “Language Tag” was. But I’m ABSOLUTELY THRILLED to learn about it and it’s all thanks to dearest LIZ♥  ♥  ♥ Hugs & Kisses ♥  ♥  ♥ ).

So, here I am, doing my own language tag. Oh yes! Do check out her post as well! – A brief account by Liz herself, a passionate language learner, from a country where 1652 languages are spoken, and who herself has ventured into the realm of seven languages, but has finally settled in with her love for Japanese. It’s quite interesting that even with such close cultural, religious, historical and linguistic ties between Nepal and India, there still are so many things that you didn’t know about each other. Anyways, let’s get right on it!


What would you consider your native language?

My native language is Nepali (नेपाली) or 네팔어 (as they say in Korean). Continue reading

A Look Back at 2015 and New Year Resolutions for 2016! — January 4, 2016

A Look Back at 2015 and New Year Resolutions for 2016!

안녕하세요 얼어분! 새해 복 많이 받으세요 !

Hello Everybody ! Happy New Year!

(Source: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=899273)

My! Oh! My! It’s 2015! I really can’t believe it that 2015 is over. In the past, when people used to tell me things like the year passed so quickly and time flies, etc, I used to be rather skeptical and used to think “Duh! It’s 365 days for god’s sake!” BUT, I would like to extend my sincere apologies to all those people for thinking like that as that is exactly what I am feeling right now.

When I look back at 2015 now, I guess 2015 was quite eventful after all. Continue reading

A side-effect of learning languages, One that you can’t help but love! — December 27, 2015

A side-effect of learning languages, One that you can’t help but love!

안녕하세요 여러분! 진짜 오랜마넵니다!

Hi Everybody! I’m BAAAACCCCKKKK after REAALLLYYYY a long time!

I always tried to write at least one post every week, but for the past six weeks or so I haven’t been able to write a single post. (A SINGLE POST! My Goodness!) It actually feels like ages! So, I couldn’t wait to get back to it!

The reason why I was so busy was that I recently started a new job. YEAH! ㅎㅎㅎ

It’s actually my first, proper job ever!  So I am working full time now. 정규직원으로 일하고 있습니다! So, I have been pretty busy. It’s my first job after completing my Masters degree. And I have loads to learn as it is a training period for me, for at least the next couple of months. Therefore, a typical day for me thesedays consists of going to work, and after coming home from work – reviewing and studying a lot of things related to my work. So, I’ve rarely had any time to squeeze in some proper “Korean” studying time. (I am missing it like crazy!).  Strangely, I am knackered by the time I reach home although the work is not that difficult (‘t must be due to concentrating too much at work). But I am finally getting used to my daily routine and I’ve been planning & organizing my time so that I am able to, not just squeeze in my 한국어 time, but rather let it shove in and push its way around to grab the lion’s share of my off-work-hours. Also, of course, I need to manage my time for blogging too!


Anyways, today as my “Comeback” post (컴백 포스트) (and perhaps my last post for 2015, Gosh! Can’t believe, its 2016 already!) , I want to talk about a unique habit (Can you even call it a habit?) that I have seemed to develop as a result of my Korean Language Learning. Continue reading

Can you hear it too? 들려요? — November 16, 2015

Can you hear it too? 들려요?

Spoiler Alert!
Watch this video if you’ve already watched the drama: “I can hear your voice” -너의 목소리가 들려”
Watch this video if you don’t want any spoilers and if you plan to watch this drama in the future.
(Gosh! I hate spoilers!)

After watching (or rather, listening to) this OST video from the Lee Jong Suk & Lee Bo Young starring K-drama “I can hear your voice” -너의 목소리가 들려” , you must be thinking that I am going to talk about Korean dramas again. Well! Not quite! Continue reading

New Post in 코인의 코너 Blog – “네팔에 있는 문화” – “Culture of Nepal” plus “Languages of Nepal” — November 7, 2015

New Post in 코인의 코너 Blog – “네팔에 있는 문화” – “Culture of Nepal” plus “Languages of Nepal”

In my last post, I told you that I started my first Korean blog.

And I just wrote my first proper post in my Korean blog 코인의 코너 – Korean’s Korner in NAVER. It is entitled “네팔에 있는 문화” – “Culture of Nepal”, where I briefly introduce six main aspects of the Nepalese culture.

  1. Caste system
  2. Languages
  3. Religion
  4. Festivals
  5. Food
  6. Dress

    Have a glimpse at my post:

Continue reading

My “All-Korean” NAVER Blog Challenge! —

My “All-Korean” NAVER Blog Challenge!

Ok! I Ever since I started pursuing my Korean language study more seriously, I had a long awaited wish of being able to write a blog in Korean, no English, but proper, full 한국어.  I had been shilly shallying about it for quite a while now, as my writing skill is pretty bad and that’s the reason I wanted to start a blog in the first place i.e. TO PRACTISE WRITING. But the main problem was my lack of knowledge of the internet & computer related terminologies or vocabulary in Korean. And of course, my Achilles heel: my awful reading skills!  That will be the death of me! I All Korean blog hosting platforms, including NAVER, the one that I chose, are in Korean. (To know what is NAVER, read here). So navigation is a big problem. In fact, It is a catch 22 situation for me,  as I couldn’t start a blog because I couldn’t navigate the site properly, and I couldn’t navigate properly, as I didn’t start a blog sooner and didn’t get used to all the terminologies.

But last night, I thought, “What the hell!  한번 해보지 뭐! Let’s just get it over and done with. After all, I’ll have to start it someday. Better early than late! So I started a blog in NAVER called 코인의 코너” – “Koen’s Korner/Corner” (He he! 코코 or KK, which also happens to be one of my nicknames given to me by my dearest friend Kim ♥ ♥ ♥).  Please have a look at my blog here. Continue reading

The biggest mistake I made while learning Korean! What was yours? — November 4, 2015

The biggest mistake I made while learning Korean! What was yours?

Are you thinking of learning Korean or any other language that has its own unique script or alphabet? A language which is not based on the roman alphabets (like English)? If yes, then let me tell you about one of the biggest mistakes you are highly prone to make; a mistake that will tremendously slow your learning progress. Take my word for it, as I was stupid enough to make that mistake. So I want to warn all lexiophiles out there, not to repeat the same. (I am still suffering from the adverse effects of having done than).

Yes, the mistake was “learning romanization instead of learning Hangul, the Korean alphabet” (the simplest and the most brilliant alphabet system ever! Don’t you guys agree?). For those who are new to the term “romanization”, it is basically a system in linguistic, of converting the writing of a different writing system into the Roman or Latin system (the system on which English alphabets are based). So I learnt reading Korean through the romanized versions of the scripts (especially song lyrics), which happened to be a very bad decision on my part.

Now, you may ask: “Isn’t romanization supposed to be a useful guide for reading a language that has a different script? Isn’t it supposed to help you learn correct pronunciations?”. The answer would be “Yes” and “Yes”! But it seems to do more bad than good for language learners. Skeptical??? Here’s my explanation.

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Learning language through Cognates & loan words (Konglish) — October 31, 2015

Learning language through Cognates & loan words (Konglish)

(Special focus on Konglish & false cognates)

Learning any language is all about learning just the 6000 or 7000 … most frequently words in that language. It does not entail being a walking dictionary in that language (I doubt if it is even humanly possible. It is impossible even for the native speakers). So, at the first glance, it does not seem like such a herculean task. But, it may still be a daunting goal for someone who is learning a language which is VEEERRRY different from his/her own language, or worse, which has its own unique script or alphabet (quite alien from his/her own language) and not to forget for people like me who have been foredoomed with a terrible memory.

So, one quick way of getting your hands on those lexicons is to look for cognates existing between your target language and your own language. I got this idea from Jimmy Naraine’s video entitled “Accelerate Language Learning Speed with 2 GREAT Techniques”.

Since, the language I am using to learn my target language (Korean) is English, and my blog is also essentially intended to cater for English readers, I am presuming that your language is English as well. Therefore, the trick is to find the cognates between your target language and English. Continue reading

Learn 35 NEW WORDS from the NEW EPISODES (9-11) of the K-drama: “그녀는 예뻤다” (She was pretty) — October 24, 2015

Learn 35 NEW WORDS from the NEW EPISODES (9-11) of the K-drama: “그녀는 예뻤다” (She was pretty)

35 Additional Korean Vocabulary Words

In my last post, I gave you 20 Korean words from the 8 episodes of the latest Korean drama “그녀는 예뻤다”-“She was pretty”.

In this post, I have compiled 35 additional words from the remaining three episodes (9 to 11) which have been aired so far.(Damn! I wish we had got the 12th episode too. If only the episode hadn’t been cancelled due to the live baseball telecast).

If you are also a visual learner like me then I am sure that hard-core vocabulary lists and plain flash cards are not your cup of tea. Flashcards with pictures are definitely a better option but nothing works magic like videos, especially drama series, movies and similar audio-video contents. In my case, since I am learning Korean, it’s the K-dramas and other K-TV programmes. Like I said in my earlier post, dramas and movies are a great way of learning the most commonly used phrases and enriching your vocabulary.

Talking about me, the phrases and words that I learn through them are imprinted in my brain right away. So I can easily remember them and recall them. (Association works great when you remember the plot of the drama). Moreover, they serve as excellent listening exercises and therefore are extremely effective. Hence, I try to watch k-programmes and dramas as much as possible.

One of the latest K-dramas that I am currently hooked on is the MBC 수목 드라마 – Wednesday-Thursday drama called  “그녀는 예뻤다”-“She was pretty”, which is pretty fun so far and I am already learning many new words through it. So I am writing these posts so that other Korean language learners can also learn these words. Here have a look at my 35-word-vocabulary list from episodes 9 to 11.

  1. 주근깨= freckles
  2. 투덜대다 (also 투덜거리다) = to complain, to grumble
  3. 핑계대다 = to make or give excuses
  4. 정작 =  actually, really
  5. 빼먹다 = to omit, to leave out, to miss
  6. 화려하게 = glamorously, splendidly, brilliantly, impressively, fancily, dramatically
  7. 오글거리다 = to get goosebumps
  8. 사회자 = emcee (MC-Master of ceremony), host, anchor (of a show, program, etc)
  9. 마감 =  deadline
  10. 수명을 줄이다 = reduce the length of one’s life/lifespan (수명을 줄여가다 = be reduced (lifespan), passive form)
  11. 취재 = news gathering assignment (of a reporter), coverage
  12. 동화 = children’s story book, fairy tale
  13. 재해석하다 = to reinterpret
  14. 기발하다 = novel, brilliant, original, innovative
  15. 망설이다= to hesitate, waver, (망설임= hesitation)
  16. 종점=last stop, end of the line of a route, terminal (station)
  17. 막상 = Now that (something has actually happened)
  18. 신경쓰다=to bother, to get on one’s nerves (신경 쓰이다=to be bothered, be annoyed by, be nervous about something, passive form of 신경 쓰다)
  19. 정직한= honest, frank
  20. 몹시= very, really, extremely, terribly
  21. 압수= confiscation, seizure
  22. 개명하다= to change one’s name
  23. 거슬리다= to be unpleasant, offensive, irritating, annoying
  24. 꼬이다 = get messed up, get screwed, get twisted, entangled
  25. 응원하다 =  to cheer, to root for
  26. 동창 = classmate, alumni, school friend, batch-mate
  27. 공과 사를 구분하다 = to keep one’s private and public (professional) matter separate
  28. 호무하다 = be not in the least, be not at all, be not a bit , empty
  29. 시사회 =  preview (of movies, dramas, books, shows, etc)
  30. 애초에 = at first, in the beginning, primarily, originally
  31. 무리한 =  unreasonable/impractical
  32. 발전 가능성 = development possibility/ possibility for development/progress
  33. 유일한 = one and only, only
  34. 판매 부수 = number of copies sold, circulation
  35. 오싹하다 = to get/have the chills, to be freaked out by something

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